Rustlings (October 30, 2017)

While attending seminary, I pastored a wonderful church in rural, mid-state Kentucky. Our small, unincorporated town was populated by dairy farmers, tobacco farmers, factory workers, a couple of lawyers, a doctor, a few teachers and of course, the preacher. We traveled to other towns to ‘do our banking and grocery shopping.’ We had one general store ‘down at the bridge’ where you could purchase basic essentials, get a sandwich at the counter (bologna, liverwurst or any other packaged meat on white bread) and catch up on the latest gossip…I mean…news. It was a quiet community intent upon caring for each other and pleasing God.

Rook was the card game of choice in our little town. Everyone played. When I visited in their homes – we played. Every Friday evening, the general store cleared the dimly lit back room in order to make room for tables and card players. On one such Friday evening – jammed to the gills in the general store – I suggested we move the weekly Rook game to the church fellowship hall where there was much more room. The crowd went silent; I mean really silent. No one moved. Finally, a tentative voice broke the still air, “Preacher, playing cards is a sin. We can’t do it in church.” The noise resumed, the hand continued, and we kept sinning until about 11:00pm.

Our 4th Annual Lulapalooza Texas Hold ’em Poker Tournament, to benefit the Lula Whilden World Missions Offering, will be held Sunday evening, November 19, from 6:30-9:00pm… in the Fellowship Hall. A Texas hold ’em lesson/refresher will be given at 5:00pm for those who’d like to brush up on their game. Players contribute $50 to play in the tournament or can receive additional starting chips by paying $100. ALL money collected goes to the Lula Whilden Offering. We are not gambling. No cash is awarded to the tournament winner. The only thing the winner receives is the coveted Lulapalooza Winner’s jacket…which usually hangs in their closet until next year’s presentation. Oh, and whoever knocks me out of the tournament receives a downtown restaurant gift certificate.

I hope you will sign up today for this fun and fruitful evening. Register online at or call the church office to reserve your seat. You will pay at the door on the night of the event. If it’s sinning… well…come sin with us. It’s for a great cause, and I’d rather sin with my friends at the church than in a dimly lit back room in rural Kentucky…

— Jim